Christmas in 2008 is a heartwrenching time for many Americans. Millions are now out of work and can't find a job, a record number of Americans are having their houses foreclosed, countless families have little or no money to buy Christmas presents for their children and a sense of hopelessness and depression is creeping steadily across the nation.
Can you imagine getting down on your knees and begging for a job at the dump?
That actually happened this Christmas season in the Tampa Bay area.
136 people, most out of work, answered a recent employment ad for a position at a landfill.
"At one point I actually had a line of people 10 feet out the door waiting to talk to me," Scott Hanus, an operations manager for Veolia Environmental Services told the St. Petersburg Times.
In fact, he had 4 people actually get down on their knees and beg him for a job.
At the dump.
Did you hear about the approximately 1,000 people who applied for 50 low paying jobs at a new In-N-Out restaurant opening in Nevada?
This is how the Las Vegas Sun described the scene:
Some wore ties. Some wore their pants too low. Some were balding. Some owed two months of mortgage payments. Some spoke openly of suicide. Some asked this reporter for a job. Some asked the manager at the hotel hosting the event for a job.
Then there is the tragic story of James Atwell. Each year his Christmas light displays in Maryland have attracted approximately 30,000 cars full of onlookers each season, but this year will be the last year for his annual display of lights.
His house is being foreclosed.
He is another victim of the subprime mortgage meltdown.
"I don't feel sorry for myself," Atwell told the Maryland Independent. "I got myself into this. … The judgments are just piling up. … I never dreamed I would be like this."
The truth is that many Americans cannot even afford to buy gifts for the children this Christmas.
According to a recent Harris Interactive survey of 2,821 adults released by the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C., more than half of American families worry about not having money to buy gifts this year.
One out of work Arizona woman described her increasing desperation this way: "When three months go by with only two job interviews, it's hard not to feel a certain amount of self-doubt and hopelessness."
All of this increasing desperation is putting a lot of stress on life in the home.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting on one woman in the Baltimore area is having a hard time hiding her desperation as her husband's business has almost completely failed. Her family's cars have been repossessed and their house is in danger of foreclosure. "We're behind on everything," she says.
She also tells of being afraid of her abusive husband: "He gets very frustrated, very, very angry."
The reality is that according the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half a million Americans, almost all of them women, are abused by their spouses every year. All of this economic stress is making things even worse experts say.
The truth is that Americans have lived beyond their means for decades, and now America is full of people who think that life is over if all of their treasures are taken away.
But perhaps all of us would be better off if we took the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21 to heart.....
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."